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Wile_E_Coyote
12-25-2004, 08:37 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Last time Kansas City hosted a Christmas Day game, the NFL promised such a thing would never happen again. And for a long time, it didn't. But that was 33 years ago and times change.

The storm of protest that erupted when the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins stalled Christmas dinner with a game that lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds on Dec. 25, 1971 has faded into the distant past.

This year, the NFL offered a game on Christmas Eve and is offering two on Christmas Day, including a 5 p.m. EST kickoff between two old rivals with little defense but aerial attacks that sometimes look unstoppable.

The Chiefs (6-8) have won three in a row with an awakened offense that finally seems to have adjusted to the loss of running back Priest Holmes. Trent Green is tied for the NFL lead with six 300-yard passing games and last week in a 45-17 win over Denver was nearly flawless while throwing three TD passes.
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But that was two fewer than Kerry Collins managed last week in Oakland's wild 40-35 victory over Tennessee. Collins, who struggled at first after taking over for an injured Rich Gannon, threw for a season-high 371 yards and matched his career high with five touchdowns for the Raiders (5-9).

On Saturday Collins will take aim at a Kansas City defense that ranks last in the NFL against the pass, allowing 270.4 yards per game.

Then Green takes the field against an Oakland defense that's next-to-last, allowing an average yield of 245.8 yards.

Collins even seems to be heating up. Five of the Raiders' six pass plays of 50 yards or more have come in the past four games.
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http://hosted.ap.org/icons/spacer.gifhttp://hosted.ap.org/icons/spacer.gif"Obviously we've gotten a lot better in the passing game and we've been able to make some plays," Collins said. "It's become probably the thing we're doing the best right now. We'll continue to try to build on it."

The Raiders are averaging fewer than 75 yards on the ground, which is 32nd in the 32-team league and only half the Chiefs' average of 151.4 yards rushing.

"You always want to mix in the run game and try to have some balance and I expect to try and do that on Saturday," Collins said.

After Holmes went out with a season-ending knee injury in the eighth game, the Chiefs lost their next three starts. But they've won their last three, thanks in large part to the emergence of second-year running back Larry Johnson, who's gone over 100 yards each of the three games and scored five touchdowns.

"They're one of the most high-powered offenses that we're going up against throughout this whole year," said Oakland safety Ray Buchanan. "I lick my chops every time we have an opportunity for guys to throw the ball in the air and have an opportunity to make plays. You're supposed to strive for a game like this. Another thing is it's on national television, so you don't want to go out there and look bad."

Against the Broncos, the Chiefs got two touchdown catches from wide receiver Eddie Kennison and a 48-yard catch-and-run TD play from rookie wideout Samie Parker.

"Our wide receivers did a good job," said Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil.

"I constantly get the overtones that people don't think we have very good wide receivers and we feel like we always have to rationalize the fact that they don't catch 85 balls or go for 4,000 yards. But the way we structure our offense and utilize our personnel, they do a good job."

The Chiefs have totaled more than 400 yards a team-record seven times while averaging 31.1 points, No. 2 in the league behind Indianapolis.

"They're playing great," Collins said. "Their offense has really turned it on the past few weeks. They're making big plays and doing all the things that you expect them to do. It's going to be a big challenge for us, obviously being on the road and having to deal with the crowd noise and the way they're playing right now."

In 1971, when the Chiefs lost by three points in double overtime on Christmas Day, the NFL was bombarded for taking away family time on a holiday.

"I hope a lot of families are watching," said Vermeil. "Isn't that a family activity, too?"

Ari Chi3fs
12-25-2004, 09:15 AM
next year there will be a bunch of games on Christmas, eh? Being that Christmas is on a Sunday next year.